I am a soldier who is currently deployed to
Afghanistan. During my mid tour leave I chose
to marry my girlfriend. She is Catholic and
I am not. When we get home, we intend to have
an official wedding ceremony.
Will this be possible since we are already
Will the fact that I'm not Catholic prevent
us from being married in the Church?
Since I was married
before deploying, will there be a problem having an official wedding later? }
Hi, Mike —
First, thank-you for your service
to our country; you give us the freedom
to perform our work on the site.
Please tell your fellow soldiers
their safety and the safety of their
families are in our prayers at AskACatholic.com.
There are certain issues you left
out of your question that we need
in order to give you an accurate
answer. Because of this, let me give
you what the Church teaches on situations
similar to yours and my colleagues
can fill in anything I've missed.
Any baptized Catholic who wishes
to enter into a valid sacramental
marriage has to marry according to
a Catholic form.
What does this mean?
This means they have to be married
in the Church.
If their spouse, you, is a non-Catholic,
the Catholic spouse just needs
to get a dispensation from the
local bishop, and
the non-Catholic spouse has
to promise to:
not interfere with the
Catholic spouse raising
the children of their marriage
both parties also have
to enter the marriage with
the proper understanding of
the marriage consent and
the purposes of marriage.
The underlying assumption is that
the Catholic spouse practices her
faith and follows the teachings of
the Church including those against
artificial contraception. The Church
does promote natural contraception — also
known (NFP) Natural Family Planning.
1633 In many countries the situation
of a mixed marriage, (marriage
between a Catholic and a baptized
non-Catholic), often arises. It
requires particular attention
on the part of couples and their
pastors. A case of marriage with
disparity of cult (between a Catholic
and a non-baptized person) requires
even greater circumspection.
1634 Difference of confession
between the spouses does not constitute
an insurmountable obstacle for
marriage, when they succeed in
placing in common what they have
received from their respective
communities, and learn from each
other the way in which each lives
in fidelity to Christ. But the
difficulties of mixed marriages
must not be underestimated. They
arise from the fact that the separation
of Christians has not yet been
overcome. The spouses risk experiencing
the tragedy of Christian disunity
even in the heart of their own
home. Disparity of cult can further
aggravate these difficulties.
Differences about faith and the
very notion of marriage, but also
different religious mentalities,
can become sources of tension
in marriage, especially as regards
the education of children. The
temptation to religious indifference
can then arise.
1635 According to the law in force
in the Latin Church, a mixed marriage
needs for liceity the express
permission of ecclesiastical authority. (cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 1124) In case of disparity of cult an
express dispensation from this
impediment is required for the
validity of the marriage. (cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 1086) This
permission or dispensation presupposes
that both parties know and do
not exclude the essential ends
and properties of marriage; and
furthermore that the Catholic
party confirms the obligations,
which have been made known to
the non-Catholic party,
of preserving his or her own faith
and ensuring the baptism and education
of the children in the Catholic
Church. (cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 1125)
1636 Through ecumenical dialogue Christian communities in many regions have been able to put into effect a common pastoral practice for mixed marriages. Its task is to help such couples live out their particular situation in the light of faith, overcome the tensions between the couple's obligations to each other and towards their ecclesial communities, and encourage the flowering of what is common to them in faith and respect for what separates them.
1637 In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a particular task:
"For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband."
It is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this "consecration" should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith. (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:16) Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to accept the grace of conversion.
If you are ever interested in, what faithful Catholics believe, or going deeper into the faith, consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Tell everyone in your command that
you, your fellow soldiers, and commanders
are in our prayers . . . praying you get
Fr. Jonathan replied:
Hi, Mike —
I'll simplify my answer: yes to
the first question and no to
the second, and when you have a chance
you should set up an appointment
with a priest.
The priest would be responsible for
the Marriage prep and the ins and
outs of this particular relationship.
God bless you for your service, and
your choice to marry. If you married
in a civil ceremony only, the Church
does not consider your girlfriend
married at all yet, so there will
be no problem with having an official
Your not being a Catholic is not a problem,
but she will need to get some information
from her pastor, starting now, because
in most dioceses in America there
is a 6-month wait to marry so that
people can make, learn, and prepare